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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jap Juice Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The year was 1984.  I remember that year for a few distinct reasons.  It was the year the Detroit tigers won the world series.  Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker(sweet Lou as we so affectionately called him), Lance Parish, Chet Lemon and all the rest of the guys.  I can still remember going to Tiger games that summer with my aunt and uncle and my older brother.  The smell of the hot dogs and popcorn and peanuts- "get your peanuts, hot peanuts", the voices forever echo in my head.  Funny how things stick in your head but I swear whenever we went to a game they were always playing the Seattle Mariners.  It didn't matter,  the Tigers were hot that year and I got to see them play.
    The next thing that I remember from that year was that there was a marriage in the family and the whole family drove down to Florida to witness the occasion.  All the aunts, uncles and cousins loaded into vehicles and we headed down.  There must have been twenty of us in that familycade.  Florida and thirteen years old go hand in hand.  I had a blast.  Grandad would take us out at night to go "shrimping'.  We would anchor the boat in the middle of the river and then hang lights over the side that dropped down into the water about a foot deep.  Then we would lower giant nets, about 3 feet across, down into the water next to the light.  When the shrimp floated by,  with the outgoing tide,  you simply moved your net in front of them and voila you had a shrimp.  The nets were really long as well to keep the shrimp from swimming back out.  I would fish in Grandads canal, swim sometimes too.  Although the water was quite brackish and there was rumors of alligators still roaming,  nothing can deter the will of a thirteen year old.  Florida and I fit together like peas in a pod.
     The other thing event I remember that year was Jack.  Jack was a new friend for me. We moved in to a new house and he lived across the street and down one.  Kitty Korner we called it.  He was one year older than me but still in the same grade.  Skinny pole of a kid.  Sheepish grin always adorning his face.  Jack was the type of kid that seemed to be "your average run of the mill school kid".  Average grades, mild mannered, respectful to adults.  The kind of kid teachers like to have in class.  Easy kids.  They passed all their classes didn't cause trouble and never needed any of the teachers precious extra time.  Now I don't have anything against teachers in general but I always had the feeling that there are some kids they don't want to deal with.  Like they know if they start to pry open the lid a little then eventually it bursts open and stains their new white pants.  No one needs a stain to carry around.  Jack was one of these. I don't think any one was certain about it but they had an idea.  Best to let sleeping dogs lie.  Jack had a side to him that could scare you some.  Jack would carry on about things, bad things, how he was gonna do this or do that,  then he would say, "naw only joking". But it was too late,  you were already scared and you couldn't tell if he was joking or not. 
      His parents had been divorced for awhile.  His mom was dating this guy named Phil.   He wasn't very nice.  We always tried to stay out of his way when we were at his mom's house.  Jack's mom was always out with Phil( it was later rumored that Phil was dealing cocaine at that time) so we ruled the roost most of the time.  Jack taught me how to order pizza for the neighbors(that was before caller id) and have it delivered while we peered out the windows and watched the confusion unfold.  Jack taught me how to "nigger nock".  We would run up on the front porch and hit the doorbell or bang on the door and then hide in the bushes and watch the home owner's reaction.  He taught me how to tear the hood ornament off of someones car and sell it at school.  That was a big thing in those days.  A big Rams head off of a pick up was worth five dollars.  One time Jack had a hold of a rams head and was pulling with all his might but the thing wouldn't budge.  So he started jerking on it.  When it finally let loose, after much grunting and cursing,  it sailed through the air and landed smack dab in the middle of his front teeth.  He knocked out 6 teeth and shattered three that night.  He was a mess.  Of course we made up some lie to cover it up and it worked. 
      I suppose in a way most of these things were boyhood activities that many kids do.  I'm sure your right but... Most kids don't blow up frogs and turtles with firecrackers though.  Most kids don't shit on a piece of paper and then put in the neighbors mailbox.  Most kids don't  steal little kids trick or treat bags either.  But Jack did.  That was his evil side.  It was mostly me that saw it.  Why?  I'm not sure but I know one thing for sure.  I wish I wouldn't have become Jacks friend that year.  I wish I wouldn't have let him talk me into so many wrong things.  I wish he would have never seen the barrels in the bottom of grandads barn.  I think Jack's evil was drawn to those barrels.  Nothing I said or did was probably going to change that.  Destiny or fate.  "Six of one- half dozen of the other", my father used to say.

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